This year’s theme:
“The Good Shepherd”
for ourselves and the children we love

Equipping church leaders, teachers, and volunteers to lead children to the Good Shepherd.

The conference will be live
Friday, August 19, 2022, at 7:00-8:15 pm EST
Saturday, August 20, 2022, at 10:00-11:30 am EST
(The Conference recording will be available through January)

Register Now

by clicking on the box below based on size of your group

Register as an Individual

$75 – participate on your own
device on your own schedule

Register as a Small Group

$300 – gather a group up to 6

Register as a Medium Group

$400 – gather a group of 7 to 14

Register as a Large Group

$500 – gather a group of 15 or more

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” – Psalm 23:1-3

Grow confident church leaders, teachers and volunteers in children’s ministry…

The children in our churches benefit from confident church leaders, teachers and volunteers. Spend time with us growing in your understanding of Jesus, our Good Shepherd, so that we can clearly communicate about Him to the children we love.

After you register, you will receive links to participate in the live conference. If you cannot attend the live conference, you will have access to all sessions and workshops until January 2023.

Here are some ideas on how you can use the conference material to equip, motivate, and encourage church leaders, teachers, and volunteers. 

  1. Invite teachers, parents, volunteers, and possible volunteers to a church wide training weekend. Serve dinner, breakfast, lunch (one or more), spend some time with your own church’s policies and procedures training and then tune in to these three sessions for resources, encouragement, and how to’s for making disciples. Live MC’s will guide everyone through the main sessions and will include resource giveaways.
  2. Invite a smaller group into a home for a more intimate setting on Friday evening for dinner and join in the session together for training. Everyone can watch from home on Saturday morning or you can gather at the church or in home again.
  3. Send link to all church members, encourage Friday evening viewing, come together on Saturday morning to discuss at breakfast and view the rest together.
  1. View one or more of your choice immediately after live sessions end to complete a full weekend training conference at your church. They can break out to view the training of their choice.
  2. Schedule live training using these videos throughout the fall as a continuing education program for parents and volunteers.
  3. Schedule virtual group training to be followed by live zoom discussions with you throughout the fall.
  4. Send links for individuals to watch on their own and have breakfast, lunch or coffee to discuss the topic(s) that have been viewed.
  5. Post the links to these videos on church website or in bulletin as you train your entire congregation to consider and become involved in direct discipleship of children.

Main Sessions

Speaker

Friday Evening
The Lovely Character of the Good Shepherd – Psalm 23 Rev. Trent Casto
Saturday Morning
Leading the Sheep to Love the Good Shepherd – I Peter 5:1-7, Mark 10:13-16 Dr. Stephen Estock
The Good Shepherd’s Mission for the Sheepfold – John 10 Katie Flores

Workshops 

Speaker

Teaching Jesus in All of the Bible: The Shepherd is Everywhere John Kwasny
Using the Teach Me to Worship Curriculum: Worshipping the Shepherd Laney Stayton
Preparing your Elementary Lesson: Pointing to the Best Shepherd Sue Jakes
Preparing your Preschool Lesson: Pointing to the Best Shepherd BA Snider
Discipleship in the Nursery: Shepherding the Littlest Tammy Hall, Bethany Belue
Classroom Management: Corralling the Sheep Jimmy Brock
Scripture and Catechism Memory: Little Lambs Can Memorize Big Things Lisa Updike, Rebecca Griffin
The Joy of the Rotation: Sammy And His Shepherd As an Outreach Event Sherry Kendrick
Creating a Good Environment for Learning: Preparing the Pasture Joseph Parker, Dana Russell
Object Lessons and Games: Tools for Teaching our Sheep Becky Sinclair

Workshop Descriptions:

God’s Word charges us to teach ALL of God’s inspired and inerrant Word to ALL people, including children (II Timothy 3:16-17). And it ALL must be taught God’s way! To avoid teaching the Bible in moralistic, legalistic, or behavioristic ways, we must learn to teach Jesus in ALL of the Bible. And the good news is: The Good Shepherd is everywhere in the Bible, not just in the gospels!

Even from a young age, God created us to worship Him! We long for the children in our churches to understand the symbolisms and rhythms of a worship service that help us all focus more on the One we are worshiping and the reason we worship Him. But at times we get stuck on how to accomplish this goal. The Teach Me to Worship curriculum was written to help you teach the 4-7 year olds in your church each aspect of the worship service from the Call to Worship to the Benediction. In this workshop we will break down the curriculum and give you the tools you need to then teach the curriculum to the little ones.

Elementary students – They know lots of facts, but have they truly met Jesus in His Word? Begin every lesson by engaging students in reading of the Word. “What do we learn about God?” Knowing this about Him, “How do we then live?” Prepare your lesson with these questions in mind. As you embrace your own newfound understanding and love for Him, open the curriculum and seek creative methods that will encourage each child to know, love and serve King Jesus.

Preschoolers – Teaching our preschoolers God’s Word in a way that sticks. Everything works together in the preschool classroom to reinforce the Bible lesson. Play centers, story time, music, games, and even snack time can help our preschoolers grasp the big truths of the Bible and point them to the shepherd. Then send them home with tools for parents to reinforce during the week. We lay a foundation at the preschool age for their growing spiritually throughout the rest of their lives.

Church nursery is not merely childcare; it is so much more! When parents bring their precious little ones to the nursery, we have the opportunity to partner with them in nurturing the tender hearts of our covenant children. The way we welcome babies into the classroom, the toys and books, the activities and structure, even the policies and procedures, are tools to point our children to Jesus. 

Everyone knows that sheep like to wander! That can be a great source of frustration for teachers and students alike. Learn key principles and practical strategies for keeping the sheep focused and in the right pasture, so they can learn and grow. 

Our minds are formed by what we stick in them! Let’s not stuff with fluff the minds of our precious lambs. Instead, let’s fill their minds with substance. This session will present some techniques to make memorizing easy, engaging, and even fun for your flock. You might even leave with a thing or two memorized yourself!

Let’s talk the practical organization of planning an outreach event that shares the gospel! Using Sammy And His Shepherd by Susan Hunt as the primary focus of an event, let’s learn how to create a rotation of activities that can be used by a small or large group of children and families. In addition, we’ll look at how the rotations can be extended in a way to use less volunteers and provide multiple times for families to attend. This could easily be your Easter outreach for this year!

This workshop will explore things that a teacher can do before children even walk through the door that will set up everyone for successful learning.

We often teach to our own learning style, yet our sheep have different learning styles and personalities. This workshop will explore different tools to help teach God’s Word. We will look at why to use a tool, how to choose a tool, and explore several object lessons and games to put in your toolbox.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Yes. If you are registered for the livestream weekend, you will have access to the recordings until the end of January 2023.

You may contact Kathy Wargo, kwargo@pcanet.org for presenter contact information if you are not able to access this on our site.

Anybody involved in children’s ministry is invited to attend. Email Katie Flores, kflores@pcanet.org, if you have questions.

In person conferences are so helpful for re-focusing the vision for what we do in children’s ministry. However, it’s expensive. This virtual conference is a great value for gathering people to think together about what is important.

See the media link below for images to use on your website or church bulletin to encourage participation once registered.

Registrations will be accepted through the end of 2022 since access will be available until January 2023.

If you paid as an individual, but now you want to share it with your church, please email Kathy Wargo (kwargo@pcanet.org) and we will credit your $75 individual rate so that you can register your group.

SHERRY KENDRICK 

I used the virtual conference as my fall teacher training with the three keynote speakers.  I invited all of our children’s ministry volunteers – teachers and helpers – to a nice catered dinner on Friday evening with decorated tables.  After dinner we watched the introduction of the virtual conference live and then watched the first keynote address.  As we watched, I formulated questions for discussion based on our context with the content of the first keynote.  We spent about fifteen minutes talking and applying what we had heard.  We concluded the evening with prayer for our children.  The next morning we had a continental breakfast AND coffee.  I had a time of vision casting and safety training before we watched the second keynote.  There was a short break and we watched the last keynote.  We followed that time again with conversation and discussion about the keynotes as they applied to our context.  This included some good questions from our volunteers.  We were done before lunch and we all went home refreshed.   

In October and January,  I used the virtual conference videos for additional training by sending home the link and a list of the videos I’d like them to watch.  I asked them to send me a paragraph or two about what their biggest takeaway from the video training was.  I feel like this was too open ended.  When I do it this year, I’ll be more specific about which vidoes I want them to watch in a shorter time frame .  But I liked them being able to do it at home without coming back to church for another evening.  I try to do training August, October, January and March.  I’ll probably alternate between coming back to church to use one of the videos and have discussion and letting them do some at home.  I did give “happys” away for completing the videos that I had sent. 

LISA UPDIKE 

Training is such an important part of the children’s ministries of our churches, and yet it can be a challenge as well. That’s why we found the Virtual Grow conference to be such a blessing!  

Friday night and Saturday morning we invited everyone who serves with our children and youth to come to the church and be a part of a viewing party. Some were unable to attend in person, but we linked up with them on the internet and we felt connected that way. We gathered about 45 minutes before the broadcast began, providing some yummy food, sharing some of our church’s vision for next generation ministries, and taking a few minutes for prayer.  

The next morning we gathered for breakfast and some more good teaching provided by CDM. But the event didn’t end there! We bought the whole package so that everyone in our church could participate. I sent links to our session members with suggestions for workshops that I thought might encourage them. They were grateful for the opportunity! Likewise, I sent the Virtual Grow Conference links with a list of suggested workshops for different areas of service: nursery, Sunday school teachers, early childhood leaders, etc. Those who participated were asked to send me an e-mail with their main “take-aways.” Their names were placed in a bowl for a series of prize drawings. My volunteers consistently reported that the workshops were well worth their time, and they didn’t need a prize…but the potential of a prize did make it  more fun and motivating! 

Deciding to provide this training for your church members not only helps the children’s ministry director provide training, but shows your volunteers that you value them. It’s an investment in your ministry. 

Speaker Bios

Bethany Belue is on staff with CDM serving in various roles within Children’s Ministry. Before coming on staff at CDM, she served as the Children’s Director at Redeemer PCA in New York City and Oak Mountain PCA in Birmingham, AL. She currently lives in Mobile, AL with her husband, Dustin, who is the assistant pastor at Grace Community Church PCA. Bethany and Dustin love investing in the next generation from small children to young adults. Life is full with their 2 young children, Patterson and Neely.

Jimmy Brock has been involved in children’s ministry since he was a child himself, serving churches in Virginia, California, Missouri, and Georgia as a Sunday school teacher, camp counselor, camp director, nursery coordinator, and most recently Pastor of Family Ministry. He is now the Church Planting Pastor for Resurrection Community Church in Virginia Beach, VA.

Rev. Trent Casto serves as the Senior Pastor at Covenant Church of Naples, FL, where he is passionately committed to preaching the gospel and pursuing its mission, “to develop and deploy fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ to disciple our family, community and world.” He holds degrees from West Virginia University and Covenant Theological Seminary, with a doctoral degree from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. Trent enjoys running, golf, tennis, and spending time with his wife Emily and their three children, Hudson, Anna Kate, and William.

Stephen Estock is Coordinator for the PCA Committee on Discipleship Ministries (CDM). A former USAF officer, he has been in pastoral ministry for almost 30 years, serving churches in Montgomery, AL and St. Louis, MO. Stephen has also been an adjunct professor at several seminaries, including Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis and Reformed Theological Seminary in Atlanta. His Ph.D. is in education, with an emphasis on competency-based learning and leadership training. He and his wife, Susan, have three children and live in Atlanta, GA.

Katie Flores equips and encourages those who are working to promote discipleship among children in the PCA. She enjoys advocating for children as well as learning from them. Katie and her husband, Bryan, live in Birmingham, AL with their children, Caleb and Grace Anne. They worship at Covenant Presbyterian Church where Katie served in youth, children’s, and disability ministry for a combined 24 years before coming to work at CDM.

Rebecca Griffin works with Lisa Updike at Covenant Presbyterian Church as her assistant and is a recent graduate of the CDM certification class. She has worked with children her whole life and taught Musikgarten for a number of years. She has a passion for sharing Jesus with the next generation, which has only increased since she and her husband Jeff welcomed their first baby girl.

Tammy Hall serves as the Director of Nursery Family Ministries at Valley Presbyterian Church in Madison, AL. The Lord has given her heart a desire to partner with parents and provide a safe and fun place for our little ones to be discipled and loved. Tammy and her husband, Tim, have been married for 22 years and blessed with two sons, Gavin (12) and Porter (9).

Sue Jakes is mother of four, grandmother of 11, and lives in Atlanta, GA where she serves as Children’s Ministry Ambassador for the Presbyterian Church in America’s Committee on Discipleship Ministries. She has served as director of children’s ministry at Covenant PCA in Fayetteville, GA and is now serving as children’s director at Westminster PCA in Atlanta. She has been teaching children, youth, and women’s groups in the church for over thirty-five years. Sue is co‑author of “Heart of the Home,” a Bible Study ministry for moms and Teach Me To Worship, CDM’s children’s church online curriculum.

Dr. John C. Kwasny is the Director of Discipleship Ministries at Pear Orchard Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Ridgeland, Mississippi. He is a Biblical counselor, an adjunct professor at Reformed Theological Seminary, and Director of One Story Ministries—authoring a complete discipleship curriculum for the church, home, and school (children and youth). John has written several books, including Children’s Ministry 101, Established in the Faith, and Learn it, Love it, Live it, Teach it.. (a 365-day children’s devotional).  He also does a weekly podcast called Biblical Counseling Today, dealing with individual, marriage, and parenting problems. John and his wife, Martie, have eight children, four sons-in-law, and four grandchildren.

Joseph Parker is the Next Gen Discipleship Pastor at Village Seven Presbyterian Church. For the past 30 years he has served in church plants to large size churches, from inner city to suburban settings. He has a passion for relationally engaging both our covenant as well as our community families with the gospel, equipping adults to disciple our next generation in such a way they grow to become Christ-changed, hope-filled, productive adults. Joseph is head over heels in love with his wife Kelly for nearly 20 years, and are parents of their adopted boys Jacob and Makiah, now 13 and 14 years old.

Dana Russell has been a member of Christ the King Church in Cambridge, MA for 25 years and has volunteered in the children’s ministry since its beginnings when the first children were born into the congregation. Her early years of service were spent on the nursery committee and teaching Sunday School at multiple grade levels. Dana has served as the Children’s Ministry Director since 2013 and is passionate about equipping teachers and parents in guiding and growing children in faith. She and her husband, Greg, an elder at CTK, are currently navigating raising three teenaged girls.


Becky Sinclair 
serves as the nursery coordinator for Oconee Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church and serves on the Children’s Ministry Team for the PCA. She has a passion for teaching children God’s Word and training those involved in children’s ministry. Becky loves spending time with her husband, David, their children, and 5 grandchildren. Her hobbies include knitting, crocheting, and making cards.

B.A. Snider has more than 20 years’ experience as a children’s director in PCA churches ranging in size from 200 to 4,000 but finds her passion is the same no matter how many children she’s serving or teaching about Jesus. She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Tennessee and taught college until the Lord called her to seminary and full-time ministry. She graduated with a master’s degree in Christian Education from Columbia International University. Speaking at conferences, consulting with leadership, and training teachers brought her to  Great Commission Publications  in 2014 as the Children’s Ministry Consultant and Marketing Director.

Laney Stayton – In one way or another, children’s ministry has been a part of Laney’s life – starting as the child of a pastor and missionary, then through volunteering at her local church as a young adult, and now as a mom of two with another one on the way. After taking a quick detour as a certified shorthand reporter in Texas, the Lord called her to serve as the children’s ministry director of North Shore Fellowship in Chattanooga, TN. She has always had a love for children and desire to help them grow in their understanding of God through His Word, and she loves the opportunity her current role gives to welcome multi-generations to do the same.

Lisa Updike is the Director of Children’s Ministries at Covenant in Harrisonburg, VA and doesn’t remember a day when she didn’t love Jesus. Her ministry experience includes teaching, special education, leading children’s choirs, and writing. Several of her books and curriculum are available through the PCA bookstore. She and her husband, Kevin, have been married since 1989 and are blessed with 4 adult children, 3 of whom joined their family through adoption. Lisa and Kevin stay busy with church activities, creating art,  and best of all, doting on their two grandsons.

Sherry Kendrick serves as the Family Ministry Director of Covenant Church of Naples in Naples, FL where she has been for 12 years. She has a degree in elementary education from East Tennessee State University and over 35 years of experience in children’s ministry as well as homeschool, private school and public school education. She loves children’s curriculums and tends to collect them. Sherry was married to her pastor husband, Mike, for 36 years serving in both small and large churches. As a widow, she continues to serve the church and has three grown children and two grandchildren with another on the way.

MEDIA